The Effects of Resistance Training on Body and Mind


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When discussing physical exercise, many people think of walking, running or other forms of cardio. While this type of exercise is wonderful for your cardiovascular health, as well as your health in general, it doesn’t optimally challenge your muscles to grow stronger, which is where resistance training comes into play. As a recent article by Daryl Austin reveals, integrating weightlifting and other forms of strength training into our daily routines can provide us a myriad of benefits, both physical and mental.

“…this form of exercise is not just for bodybuilders or gym aficionados.”

Resistance training, encompassing activities such as weightlifting, bodyweight exercises and the use of resistance bands, has traditionally been overshadowed by the more widely advocated aerobic exercises. Yet, this form of exercise is not just for bodybuilders or gym aficionados. It is a critical component of a holistic approach to wellness, benefiting people of all ages and fitness levels. The evolving body of research on resistance training underscores its role in enhancing quality of life by boosting metabolism, increasing muscle mass and improving heart health, among other advantages.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health authorities now recommend a balanced exercise regimen that includes both aerobic activities and muscle-strengthening exercises. This acknowledgment reflects a growing recognition of resistance training’s unique contributions to our overall health and well-being.

“…significant reduction in risks associated with cardiovascular diseases…with as little as 30 minutes of strength training per week.”

One of the most compelling benefits of resistance training is its impact on heart health. Research highlighted in Austin’s article points to a significant reduction in risks associated with cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, with as little as 30 minutes of strength training per week. The physiological mechanisms behind these benefits include improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which are critical factors in heart disease prevention.

Beyond the heart, resistance training casts a wide net of positive effects across various bodily systems. It enhances joint flexibility and balance, countering the notion that heavy lifting makes the body stiff and inflexible. Additionally, it serves as an important intervention against conditions like osteoporosis and sarcopenia (the physiological loss of muscle mass with age), ensuring that our bodies remain strong and resilient as we age. For more information on sarcopenia, take a look at another one of my articles on the topic, here.

The advantages of resistance training extend to influencing our mental health significantly. By improving sleep quality and potentially protecting against cognitive decline, strength training can be a powerful tool in our mental health arsenal. Moreover, resistance training has been linked to lower rates of depression and anxiety, offering a psychological boost that complements its physical benefits.

“The key is finding a routine that fits your lifestyle and is sustainable over the long term.”

Austin’s article informs us about the process and importance of incorporating resistance training into our lives. With so many resources available, from instructional videos on bodyweight exercises to simple equipment like resistance bands, starting a strength training regimen has never been more accessible. The key is finding a routine that fits your lifestyle and is sustainable over the long term.

Resistance training is an essential component of a comprehensive fitness program, offering a wide array of health benefits that cannot be ignored. Whether you’re lifting weights, doing push-ups or using resistance bands, the journey toward a stronger, healthier self is well within reach, and you may just reap some other benefits in the process.

E. Dylan Mayer Dylan is a graduate from the University of Colorado at Boulder, with a major in Neuroscience and minor in Business. He has also recently completed his M.S. in Human Nutrition at Columbia University.

This article was reviewed and approved by Emeran Mayer, MD